TJ13 reported that following the Australian GP and the Mercedes engine failure on Romain Grosjean’s car, a seal was identified as a probable weakness across all the Mercedes engines and a retro fix was performed for the next race in Malaysia.
However, the lack of bench testing of the new component led Mercedes to limit the top end performance of their engines for both the works and customer teams.
After todays Chinese GP qualifying session, clearly the power output on the Mercedes power unit has been cranked back up resulting in a comfortable 1-2 for the Mercedes AMG F1 team. The lead over Vettel’s Ferrari in third place was almost 1 second over the single flying lap.
Damon Hill was lost for words, though eventually he articulated: “I’m absolutely stunned by the gap. I’m afraid its gone back to Mercedes looking utterly dominant again”. Hill
Sebastian Vettel confirmed this view in the post qualifying top three press conference when he stated of Mercedes, “obviously these guys were a bit quicker than we expected.”
The Williams’ cars provide further evidence the Mercedes engine is more dominant this weekend. In Malaysia they struggled to qualify 7th and 9th, yet in Shanghai they split the Ferrari pairing, ending up 3rd and 4th on the grid.
Following qualifying, a relaxed and upbeat Niki Lauda was interviewed by the SKY F1 broadcasting team. Asked whether he was satisfied with today’s qualifying performance, Lauda replied, “Yes, Especially with Nico’s performance, because Nico did an incredible lap and nearly got Lewis.
“Nico was a little bit behind in the last two races, so he’s back on top – thank God.”
The triple world champion though was cautious in his view of tomorrow’s race proceedings. “If the surface conditions stays the same, I see only 2 or 3 tenths – race speed against Vettel and Ferrari is not much – so the smallest mistake and you can easily lose out.”
“We have to drive hard and clever tomorrow, to keep Sebastian behind us”
Yet when questioned by German TV, another Niki Lauda showed up. “We are 0.9 seconds up. That means we won’t have to work too hard tomorrow for the win; that’s what counts.”
Who knows what the agenda is behind this double speak analysis, yet as ever, Lauda remains the controversial figure he always was.